IBM's Supercomputer Whips Up Own BBQ Sauce
Watson's creation is delicious, humans say
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2014 12:54 AM CDT
Updated Jul 2, 2014 1:58 AM CDT
A prop representing Watson is seen with vanquished human opponents during a Jeopardy practice round.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

(Newser) – What does a machine with no mouth, no taste buds, and no interest in consuming ribs know about barbecue sauce? Everything, according to IBM. The company says its Watson supercomputer has analyzed huge numbers of recipes and used its "cognitive cooking" abilities to create a delicious BBQ sauce, NPR reports. For the supercomputer to cook, a database of recipes is added, and then "we remix them, substitute things, do all kinds of other modifications and generate millions of new ideas for recipes," an IBM research scientist explains. To pick the best ones, "we try to predict what humans will find flavorful, based on some basic ideas from chemistry and psychology."

Watson's Bengali Butternut BBQ Sauce was only bottled for a limited run, but the recipe is online here. IBM says it includes "squash, Thai chilies, tamarind, and a dozen more ingredients that have never before been slathered together on a chicken wing." So what does the "computerized condiment" taste like? Mark Wilson at Fast Company tried it out and, like other reviewers, he says it is delicious. "The best way I can describe it is as a Thai mustard sauce, or maybe the middle point between a BBQ sauce and a curry," he writes. "Does that sound gross? I assure you that it isn't." (When not creating sauces, Watson's other ventures have included crushing human contestants on Jeopardy and dispensing medical advice.)

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Showing 3 of 21 comments
Marked as Spam?
Jul 7, 2014 8:33 AM CDT
I could use some on these bulging capacitors
NSAfilter_inc9
Jul 6, 2014 10:07 PM CDT
My brother and I made this recipe today. I have a sauce that I came up with years ago that is my goto for ribs (I glaze after they are done)...but I am game and in L.A. so thought to try this one for kicks. Went to an Indian Market on Las Feliz for most of the stuff. Got some Meyer Lemons from Gelson's. Measured it all out and doubled it to make enough to matter. Its interesting. It went through a lot of flavor states as it went along.. and didnt really get "tasty" until the last step when it gets cilantro, molasses, salt,and Meyer lemon. At that point it suddenly tasted "good"...but I cant for the life of me think what its true use will be...if anything. Its an odd intense yellow...sort of overly smooth maybe in consistency (I blended hell out of it). Babyfood smooth...from the squash. It is impossible to describe the flavor. It is for sure not a bad flavor... But it is so unusual that I couldnt help go back and look at the list to make sure I didnt mess something up. It just doesnt read "BBQ" to me. In the end....I am going to use it on a rack of ribs tomorrow. Maybe just half the rack to minimize the risk. I am sure this sauce would not make ribs inedible ...but my own sauce is so good that I dont want to miss out on at least a few really outstanding ones from my wheelhouse. Who knows...maybe when glazed over a meaty pork rib, tender on the bone, that has a nice rub cooked into it.....something is going to happen... but I dont think so. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
NorCalHal
Jul 4, 2014 7:29 PM CDT
A computer may not have a mouth or taste buds but they still run on bits, bytes and nibbles..